Last December I wanted to buy Al a really unusual Birthday present so after wondering for a while I decided on a hot air balloon ride!
Unfortunately due to the lockdown, we couldn't go until now, so on the 23rd of August we took to the skies and it was brilliant! I had to ring after 2pm to make sure the flight was going ahead because obviously if the weather was bad we wouldn't be able to fly. The weather was excellent so the flight was going ahead at 5:30 that evening
We had to meet at the Boar's Head pub in Nantwich, the balloon would be taking off in the field next to the pub. I have to admit I was feeling a bit nervous as well as excited. I needn't have worried it was great! The pilot and ground crew turned up at 5pm unloaded the basket and balloon and started filling the balloon with air from big fans, once it was semi-inflated they lit the gas and the balloon rose up, it was huge a lot bigger than I expected! We had all been told which compartment we were to climb into so as soon as the pilot gave us the go-ahead we all had to climb in. There were 4 compartments for the passengers and one for the pilot, 4 people in each and the pilot in the one in the middle with the controls I was amazed that there were so many in the basket, 17 in all! No wonder the Balloon was huge it would have to be to carry us lot!
We were off!
We could see for miles, even the Liverpool skyline could be seen in the distance. The patchwork farmers' fields stretched for miles and miles it was breathtaking. The farmhouses and animals all in miniature it was like looking down on model villages. All the vehicles were tiny, tractors, cars, and the ground crew in their jeeps all looked like dinky cars on a child's playmat!
We flew across the Cheshire countryside for just over an hour. when we were low we could see people waving which was lovely and of course, we all waved back and shouted hello.
The whole of the flight was fantastic but one of the highlights for me was flying over a marina filled with boats, it was a lovely sight. I wasn't sure which marina it was until I found out later it was Overwater Marina at Audlem. I posted pictures on a boaters Facebook page in the hope that people would be able to spot their boats from the unusual aerial view. I was thrilled when not only did people spot their boats one lovely boater snapped a picture of our balloon and was kind enough to post it. That was lovely for us to see what we looked like from the ground.
Us in the air!
Another lady messaged me from the marina asking if they could use my photos on the marina Facebook page, of course, I was honored that they wanted to and said yes of course they could.
The lovely aerial view of Overwater Marina at Audlem.
Once we were coming to the end of our flight the pilot had to look for a suitable landing site. The thought hadn't really occurred to me that he wouldn't have a clue where we would land as it depended on which direction the balloon would take us. Once a suitable landing spot was decided he opened a huge vent at the top of the balloon to let the air out so the balloon would fall gently towards the ground. We then had to all hold tight to the looped hand ropes bend our knees and prepare for landing! We were told on the odd occasion the basket would tip on landing so we would all be on our backs but it only tilted precariously then popped upright again, we were down safe. The pilot was great and looked after us all so well.
I was fascinated to learn that wherever the balloon landed we would have to stay put until the ground crew contacted the farmer that owned the field to get permission to be there, once permission was granted then, and only then could we disembark. In the rare and unlikely case that the farmer wouldn't grant permission, we would have to take off again and find a kinder farmer! We were told most farmers were amenable and would be thanked and gifted a bottle of whiskey. Once landed we all mucked in rolling the balloon up so it could be loaded onto the trailer we were then all driven back to the pub in the landrover's to pick up our cars. We hadn't realized just how far we had travelled in the balloon until we saw how long it took to drive us back to the pub!
All in all, it was an amazing experience and I urge anybody to try it. Al and I loved every minute it was magic!
The little yellow balloon in the photo above was our pilot's son who was training to be a pilot himself. We flew with Wickers World and the pilot and crew were lovely!